RIDE REPORT : By Ian Paterson
There’s no December edition of the magazine I edit so I take most of November off and work on my photos, do what I’m told around the house, catch up with friends and rellos, and get out on the bike. There’s something wonderful about a solo trip with no schedule to keep to and only a vague idea of where you’re going. I found it both exciting and relaxing.
On Monday Nov 12, I headed off on the Gold Wing on a six-day, 2005km ride around inland NSW and Victoria. I had been hoping to visit friends in Manilla (near Tamworth) but they were in India so I decided to give the trip a more southern flavour.On the Monday I rode to Orange for lunch with a work friend and then to Bathurst to stay with my niece and her family. On Tuesday I decided to follow the Lachlan River downstream so rode to Mandurama and then took a great little back road to Canowindra – they were resurfacing three sections but apart from that and a bumpy bit near Canowindra it’s highly recommended. I had lunch in Forbes and then took Lachlan Valley Way to Condobolin on to Lake Cargelligo.
|Main street Condobalin|
|Lake Cargelligo (from the motel)|
All the maps show the road from Lake Cargelligo to Hillston (further west, down the Lachlan River) as dirt but the locals said it had recently been sealed, so on Wednesday I continued down Lachlan Valley Way and then Kidman Way to Hillston, which is about as far west as you can go on the bitumen. The road was in excellent shape and the country wasn’t nearly as flat as I was expecting, with rocky hills in between ripening wheat crops.
I was really impressed by Hillston. It is very pretty and seems quite prosperous – possibly something to do with all the cotton being grown in the area – and it has a good bakery in the main street. I stopped for a coffee and meat pie and sauce and then sat beside the river for a while reading before having an early lunch at another café beside the river (it was a punishing schedule to keep to).
|Main street at Hilston|
After lunch I headed south on Kidman Way to Griffith, where I found the lookout we didn’t quite get to in October, on to Darlington Point on the Murrumbidgee River, and then east via Whitton and Leeton to Narrandera, where I stayed with some old friends.
There was lots of catching up to do so I didn’t hit the road until Thursday arvo, riding south on the Newell Highway and then on back roads through Urana, Berrigan and Finley to Tocumwal, on the Murray River. I stayed in the Kingswood Motel, which reminded me a bit of the car of the same name. The owners were quite friendly and the bloke suggested I come back some time with the rest of the Canberra Ulysses mob. It was “Parma Night” at the nearby Bowling Club (chicken or veal parmigiana with your choice of 20 different toppings) so that was where I dined.
On Friday I had a walk along the river and then headed south again to Shepparton, centre of Victoria’s main irrigation area, for lunch with another work friend. Then I headed north-east to Yarrawonga and took the Murray Valley Highway through Rutherglen to Albury. I left Albury with a full tank at 5pm and rode to the Hume Weir, across the long iron bridge and around the shore of Lake Hume in the glorious evening light to Jingellic and up to Tumbarumba for the night.
The upper Murray was stunningly beautiful – there’s water everywhere (the locals said the lake is higher than it’s been for 20 or 30 years), the cows were up to their armpits in lush green grass, and the road was an absolute joy to ride. Tumbarumba has an excellent motel and restaurant that could be a great place for Xmas in July.
On Saturday I headed home via Batlow, Tumut and the Hume and Federal highways and gave the Wing a well-deserved wash.